Book Report {May 2015}

Disclaimer: This post contains a few affiliate links.

Are you in need of a good book to sink your teeth into?  If so, then I have some awesome suggestions for you today! I’m a voracious reader, so I typically (but not always!) finish several books a month.  When I read a good book, I want to share it with the world and this month, I have FOUR books to share with you in my Book Report for May 2015!

Last month, I only finished 2 books, so I opted to hold off on my usual monthly book report until this month when I'd have a few more to add to the list.

I loved all of these books!  The last two I read are part of a 3 part series with the 3rd book set for release at the end of this month (I've already pre-ordered it!) and they were SO good!

So, let's not waste any time with idle chitchat and hop right to it, okay?

A Fall of Marigolds (by Susan Meissner)

Synopsis: A Fall of Marigolds was a fantastic read.  It alters between 1911 and 2011 and centers on two main characters - Clara Wood and Taryn Michaels.  Both women are linked through time by experiencing similar tragic events and a beautiful silk scarf covered in marigolds.

Clara is a nurse stationed on Ellis Island, NY.  Her job is to care for the immigrants that have newly arrived to America that didn't pass their health inspections.  It's a rewarding, but challenging task, but she welcomes the distraction from a recent heartbreak in Manhattan...the man she loved was tragically killed in the Triangle Shirtwaist fire.  During her self-imposed exile on the island, she connects with a new patient that recently lost his wife.  In sharing their grief, they create a bond.  When she ends up with a beautiful scarf that belonged to his wife, she finally ventures off the island to start unraveling her past as well as his.  But, she can't possibly imagine what she finds when she heads back to her old stomping grounds.

Taryn is a single mother living on the Upper West Side with her daughter. She happily works in an upscale fabric shop and helps to restore old fabrics.  As the 10th anniversary of the collapse of the World Trade Centers approach, a decade old photograph surfaces from a photographer that captured her that tragic morning outside the towers as her husband was trapped and eventually perished inside.  The photograph quickly grabs her back in time to deal with long buried emotions and the guilt she felt from running late that morning by visiting a client with an old, beautiful silk scarf adorned with marigolds.  As she faces her demons, she starts to let go of them as she discovers new details from the past.

***

My Thoughts: I loved how this book alternated between the two stories, yet still managed to maintain a connection.  Despite the length of time separating the two women and the scale of the tragedies that took their loved one, the similarities between them are many.  

This book managed to pull me into both stories and I couldn't wait to flip back to the next part as it navigated between the two! Despite the dark undercurrents of the two tragedies, the book managed to stay positive.  Excellent read!

Lady in Waiting: A Novel (by Susan Meissner)

lady-in-waiting

Synopsis: Since I loved A Fall of Marigold so much, I decided to check out another book by Ms. Meissner.  Lady in Waiting was just as good and sucked me in from page one.  Like A Fall of Marigold, it follows the story of two women separated by time, but connected by something tangible.  In this story, the ladies share the same name, Jane, and a ring.

Jane Lindsay lives in Manhattan with her husband of 22 years, while their son recently moved out for college.  She manages an antique store and with a new shipment of goods, she discovers an ancient ring hidden in the binding of a book from the 16th century.  Reeling from the recent and unexpected separation from her husband, Jane dives into learning the story behind this ring.  She's instantly connected to it after noticing her name, Jane, engraved inside.  As she learns more about the ring, she's forced to face issues in her own personal life and realizes she is able to change things and control things better than she thought she could.

When we first meet Lady Jane Grey, she's a 9 year old child living amongst royalty in 16th century England.  Separated from her parents, she feels she has no control over her life.  Every decision is made for her and she befriends and confides in her new, young dressmaker, Lucy Day.  As she grows up and is forced into circumstances she's neither ready for nor wanting, she starts to discover she actually has more control of her life than she originally thought. 

***

My Thoughts: I love how both of these women are battling similar issues despite the different eras and in the end figured out that they had more power over their life and choices than they originally thought.  I also loved that Lady Jane was actually a real person and the fictional story (involving her dressmaker) was woven around this in a very realistic storyline.  Susan Meissner does a great job at creating a visual scene so when you are reading each storyline, you feel like you're experiencing it right there with the characters.  Yet, when switching between the two easily and seamlessly.

My only negative comment on this book was that initially, I was a little lost on some of the characters in the historical story.  There are numerous players and I couldn't quite follow how they were all connected, but I just kept reading and eventually pieced it together.  Other than that, it was a fantastic book!

Murder at the Breakers: A Gilded Newport Mystery (by Alyssa Maxwell)

Synopsis: Murder at the Breakers was SO good!  This series is definitely going down as one of my favorite reads.

It's 1895 and the Breakers has just opened for it's first summer in Newport, RI.  The Vanderbilts are ready to showcase their new, beautiful home with a big bash for their daughter Gertrude's coming out party.  Emma Cross, the Vanderbilt's 'poor' but much loved relation is in attendance and stumbles upon a murder.  While she didn't see the killer, she did see the victim pushed from an upstairs balcony.  Her brother, Brady, is on the scene and is quickly arrested.  Emma refuses to believe he's guilty and begins investigating the murder both on her own and with the unsolicited help of a 'private investigator' that has also appeared - Derrick Anderson.  Can she discover who the real killer is before her brother is shipped to Providence for his trial?

***

My Thoughts: I always love an historical book, especially when there's a bit of a mystery tossed in!  This one fit the bill perfectly.  I loved that this was set in Newport and the Breakers.  Newport is one of my favorite places and I've toured the Breakers a couple of times.  It was fun to 'see' what it was like when the family actually lived there.  I thought the mystery was well written...I didn't really suspect the culprit until the individual was almost unveiled (and I wasn't entirely sure until that point!).  This book is vivid in descriptions and  you can't help but fall in love with Emma.

Murder at Marble House: A Gilded Newport Mystery (by Alyssa Maxwell)

murder-at-marble-house

Synopsis: Much like Murder at the Breakers, Murder at Marble House was fantastic!  This was the second book in the series and I dove into this as soon as I finished the first.

The story picks up right where the first one ends (literally...its the same day as when the other book ended!).  In Murder at Marble House, Emma is yet again thrown into another murder mystery.  This one occurred at Marble House, which is the residence of more of her Vanderbilt relations.  As with the first book, someone is immediately, but incorrectly arrested.  Emma, yet again, sets out to solve her second murder in just 2 short weeks.  But, to complicate matters, her favorite cousin, Consuelo Vanderbilt goes missing.  With her attentions distracted from the murder, Emma resolves to find her cousin and is convinced the murder and her cousin's disappearance are related.  

***

My Thoughts: I had also visited Marble House during my last trip to Newport, so just like with Murder at the Breakers, I enjoyed 'seeing' the family in the home.  I really liked that Ms. Maxwell wove in two mysteries yet weaved them together in such a way to keep them separate, yet connected.  Emma is just as lovable in this story as well, and I can't wait to dive into the third book, Murder at Beechwood when it is released later this month!

Your turn friends!  What books have you read lately that you loved?  I’m always on the prowl for good reads, so leave me a comment and let me know!